Justin Osmond stands under the lights, holding a violin borrowed from a HOPE school student, his gaze holding the sold-out crowd’s attention at Hoedown 2016.

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“Where an ordinary man finds an excuse, an extraordinary man finds a way,” he tells them.

Then he shows them.

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He steps out onto the dance floor and proceeds to play a medley of classical music, which might not surprise you if you know anything about the abundance of musical talent in his family. But the talent Justin displays this evening didn’t come easy. He was born with severe hearing loss. As a young boy he couldn’t talk, and a doctor said he would likely never be able to play music.

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This is where the extraordinary comes in. Because Justin speaks, eloquently, and he plays, beautifully. He can talk because he spent 12 years in therapy and training learning how to listen and speak. He can play because he wanted to play with his family so badly that he learned how to feel the music through his bones. You might think the quote about the extraordinary man a bit immodest, even if he is an extraordinary man. But Justin Osmond didn’t come to the Hoedown to boast. He came to talk about the people who helped him become so extraordinary. People like his mother, who ensured that he received the services and education that he needed. People like all the teachers, therapists, and specialists he says he put through some pretty trying times in those 12 years, and who never gave up on him.  They never told him what he couldn’t do.  He is here because of them, and because he sees the same kind of people at HOPE helping children with hearing loss become extraordinary.

HOPE Board Member Bo Cooke, HOPE Executive Director Danette Driscoll, and Board Member Dr. Neil Giddings

HOPE Board Member Bo Cooke, HOPE Executive Director Danette Driscoll, and Board Member Dr. Neil Giddings

Spokane HOPE (Hearing Oral Program of Excellence) believes that children with hearing loss have the right to be participatory members of the hearing world, offering early-intervention language and auditory therapy to children from birth to pre-K, and “empowering (families) to immerse their child(ren) in a language-rich environment”.

Hearing loss can be a devastating experience at any age, but when children are affected so young they face another set of challenges. HOPE Board Member and Gamma Knife Spokane managing partner, Bo Cooke, explains:

Hearing-impaired children here in Spokane have the power to exceed expectations and shatter assumptions, but they need support. Their immediate, central support is family. As a unit, child and family need support, and much of that comes from HOPE. So who supports HOPE? The crowd who sold out the Hoedown and filled the convention center are big supporters.

They began their evening by bidding on the wide variety of items up for silent auction.

Other big supporters of the Hoedown are sponsors like Delta, Vandervert Construction, Colorado Hearing Foundation, EN&T Columbia Surgical Specialists, Gamma Knife Spokane, Greenstone, and Northwest Farm Credit Services…and many more.

After everyone sat down to dinner, auctioneer Stu Lee and Emcee Kjerstin Bell took the mics for some exciting auction action.

Stu Lee and Kjerstin Bell get the auction started.

Stu Lee and Kjerstin Bell get the auction started.

Stu and Kjerstin got the crowd excited for items like a suite package for Disney on Ice, a tour of Washington wine country, sports packages from GU and the Seattle Seahawks, a week-long stay at a cabin on Priest Lake, and more.

HOPE relies on the funds raised by events such as the Hoedown for nearly half of their revenue, so this evening is vital.  The projected funds raised by Hoedown 2016 is roughly $100,000, nearly $20,000 more than last year’s event. The amount of support from attendees and sponsors shows that the Hoedown, HOPE, and most importantly HOPE students and families have a most extraordinary future in store.